After CNN Money piece, tech leader Chris Messina declares a big future for non-monogamy
You'll remember that Chris Messina, instigator of the Twitter hashtag and a leader in things open-source and open-web, was featured on Sunday's CNN Money report on Silicon Valley thought leaders embracing polyamory. He took a bit of ridicule, and maybe as a result of that, he's out with a powerful apologia published on the CNN Money site this morning.
A correction on my part: I originally called him an "early adopter" of poly, but he says he was introduced to the concept in 2013.
Why I choose non-monogamy
Like most of my generation, I grew up spoon fed monogamist fairy tales that pushed "happily ever after" endings as though achieving one was preordained.
...But as a child of divorce and an aspiring designer-entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I was suspicious of marriage. Out here, we're data-positive and solution-oriented and if your product (i.e. marriage) is failing for 50% of your customers, then you need to fix it or offer something better. So when I discovered polyamory and non-monogamy as I headed to Burning Man in 2013, I realized I'd stumbled onto another way.
Let's get our terms straight. Polyamory means "many loves." It often applies to one or more people who are romantically involved with (wait for it) one or more partners. Non-monogamy, meanwhile, applies to everything that isn't monogamy -- including polyamory -- but you can be non-monogamous and not polyamorous. Here, I'll draw you a Venn diagram.
Personally, I'm in a monogamish relationship. We're committed to each other, but have a porous boundary around our relationship, meaning we've agreed that it's OK for either of us to express romantic feelings toward other people or to be physically intimate with other people, so long as we're honest and transparent about our intentions with one another.
These things don't diminish the integrity of our relationship. Rather, they deepen our understanding of each other's wants and desires, and give us the space to grow independently, without growing apart.
So why non-monogamy now?
Well, people haven't changed much, but their environment has....
He goes on to discuss how we no longer live in the circumstances of the ancient societies that invented monogamy. He also discusses the arrival of Big Dating, which "unbundles monogamy and sex. It offers to maximize episodes of intimacy while minimizing the risk of rejection or FOMO."
Today's most interesting apps (Snapchat, Secret, et al.) are designed to support Big Dating, offering discreet, asynchronous, anonymish, non-exclusive communications. Multiplied against algorithms that optimize the pool of potential partners for connection,... romantic partners are now more fungible than ever. Scary! Exciting!
As such, Big Dating precipitates the rising ambivalence toward commitment, as most millennials put off marriage indefinitely. In place of monogamous pairings, hookup culture flourishes and "open relationships" are commonplace. These are merely rational economic responses to excess inventory and changing expectations of romance....
...Similar to computers in 1990, non-monogamy is niche, with its cultural center in the Bay Area. Its potential is clear to many of us out here, especially in light of the challenges and opportunities raised by Big Dating.
Sure, it could be a decade or more before its relevance is obvious to the population at large, but had Steve Jobs told people that they'd be carrying around super computers in their pockets by 2015, they'd think he was nuts. Non-monogamy demands a similar kind of radical rethinking -- in how we approach our romantic relationships.
Read the whole article (Jan. 29, 2015).
Here he is talking about the hashtag idea that made Twitter take hold.
Drawing on the Messina's manifesto, Yahoo Health put up an article about growing interest in non-monogamous arrangements: Should We All Be In 'Monogamish' Relationships? (Feb. 2, 2015).